In 1921, when someone complimented Warren G. Harding on a particularly fine speech, he said, “The best thing I ever wrote was an obituary for my dog. I felt that, and anybody can write when he feels very strongly upon his subject. Some day I’ll find a copy of that tribute to my dog and you’ll agree with me that it was good.”
He had published the piece while editing the Marion, Ohio, Star. Managing editor George Van Fleet retrieved the obituary from the newspaper files and sent a copy to the White House. Here it is:
Edgewood Hub in the register, a mark of his breeding, but to us just Hub, a little Boston terrier, whose sentient eye mirrored the fidelity and devotion of his loyal heart. The veterinary said he was poisoned; perhaps he was — his mute suffering suggested it. One is reluctant to believe that a human being who claims man’s estate could be so hateful a coward as to ruthlessly torture and kill a trusting victim, made defenseless through his confidence in the human master, but there are such. One honest look from Hub’s trusting eyes was worth a hundred lying greetings from such inhuman beings, though they wore the habiliments of men.
Perhaps you wouldn’t devote these lines to a dog. But Hub was a Star office visitor nearly every day of the six years in which he deepened attachment. He was a grateful and devoted dog, with a dozen lovable attributes, and it somehow voices the yearnings of broken companionship to pay his memory deserved tribute.
It isn’t orthodox to ascribe a soul to a dog — if soul means immortality. But Hub was loving and loyal, with the jealousy that tests its quality. He was reverent, patient, faithful; he was sympathetic, more than humanly so, sometimes, for no lure could be devised to call him from the sick bed of mistress or master. He minded his own affairs, especially worthy of human emulation, and he would kill or wound no living thing. He was modest and submissive where these qualities were becoming, yet he assumed a guardianship of the home he sentineled, until entry was properly vouched. He couldn’t speak our language though he somehow understood, but he could be and was eloquent with uttering eye and wagging tail, and the other expressions of knowing dogs. No, perhaps he had no soul, but in these things are the essence of soul and the spirit of lovable life.
Whether the Creator planned it so, or environment and human companionship have made it so, men learn richly through the love and fidelity of a brave and devoted dog. Such loyalty might easily add lustre to a crown of immortality.